As the owner of an original Galaxy Tab 7, many readers were surprised I didn’t buy a Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus when it arrived on the scene. Frankly, I didn’t think there was enough “plus” in the refresh to be worth the upgrade cost. So I waited. Now that Samsung offers the Galaxy Tab 7.7, my patience has paid off: This small slate and its high-def display offers big performance. Let’s see how much, compared to the quad-core Transformer Prime and some other Android devices.
The new Galaxy Tab 7.7
This isn’t a full review of the device, as I’ve only had it through the weekend. And you won’t find the Galaxy Tab 7.7 readily available, either. Verizon will be launching an LTE version in the near future — I caught it on video at CES — but for now, the device can only be imported. I paid a premium to do just that and bought the 16 GB Wi-Fi model last week. I don’t regret the $575 purchase price.
To offer an idea of how well the Galaxy Tab 7.7 works, I benchmarked it with some other recent Android tablets and my Galaxy Nexus smartphone. These all run either Android 3 or 4 on screens with similar resolutions, yet they all have different processors, so this gives an idea at how these chips perform.
I also included results from my old Galaxy Tab 7 as a frame of reference, as well as the iPad 2 for the browsing test. Again, this isn’t meant to be and “end all, be all” of chip benchmarking; it’s simply a look to see if the benchmark data matches my own perception of the new Galaxy Tab 7.7’s performance in real-world use.
First, some quick test notes on which chips are in each device:
- Galaxy Tab 7 (Android 2.3): 1 GHz single-core Samsung Exynos 3110, Cortex-A8; PowerVR SGX 540 GPU.
- Galaxy Tab 7.7 (Android 3.2): 1.4 GHz dual-core Samsung Exynos 4210, Cortex-A9; Mali MP-400 GPU.
- Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Android 3.1): 1.2 GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2, Cortex-A9; GeForce 333 MHz GPU.
- Galaxy Nexus (Android 4.0.2): 1.2 GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4460, Cortex-A9; PowerVR SGX540
- Transformer Prime (Android 4.0.3): 1.3 GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3, Cortex-A9; 12-core GeForce
- Apple iPad 2: 1 GHz dual-core Apple A5, Cortex-A9; PowerVR SGX543 GPU
One final note: the Asus Transformer Prime has both a balanced mode and a performance mode. I tested each, and performance mode yielded better results in all three tests, as expected. Here’s what I found in my three tests.
Linpack tests the MFLOPS, for floating point operations per second. Higher scores are better here. In performance mode, the Transformer Prime wins the race, while in balance mode, it’s a close call between the quad-core Prime and the dual-core Galaxy Tab 7.7.
Quadrant is a benchmark suite that tests memory, input/output, 2-D and 3-D graphics capabilities. It’s a good indicator of overall performance for an Android device. The Galaxy Tab 7.7 blows the competition away in this particular test, and I can attest to the general range of results here. The small slate seems the fastest overall device to me, followed by the Prime, then my smartphone.
Given that these devices have dual- and quad-core chips, I also ran similar performance tests using Smartbench and CF-Bench because not all benchmark tools are equipped to handle multi-core processors. In these tests, where higher numbers are better, the Transformer Prime starts pulling away a little more.
In real life use, however, I’m not seeing a drastic performance difference between the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Transformer Prime; likely because few apps are equipped to take advantage of four processing cores. There could also be variances because the Prime runs Ice Cream Sandwich while the Tab is still on Honeycomb.
Again, this isn’t a conclusive look, but more of an early performance indicator for each device. As mentioned previously, it’s possible some of the tests run better on the Honeycomb version of Android as opposed to the new Ice Cream Sandwich release, so results could change with future updates.
If nothing else, these tests confirmed my experience with the Galaxy Tab 7.7 over the past few days. I’ve shared thoughts of the device with my social networks, but it’s hard for folks to quantify comments such as: “It’s blazing fast!” or “This is the best small slate I’ve used yet.”
Without a doubt, both the Transformer Prime and Galaxy Tab 7.7 perform well. The Tab appears better for general tasks right now, while the Prime is exceptional when it comes to gaming. If you haven’t seen why, check the tail end of this video showing PC-like gaming with an Xbox controller on the slate. And stay tuned for a video overview of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 coming soon!